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Updated: 21 hours 39 min ago

Business Leaders Talk Trump’s Impact on Visas, Drug Pricing, Insurance

Fri, 01/20/2017 - 16:24

Perhaps you’ve heard about the inauguration of one Donald J. Trump. Xconomy has been asking prominent members of the national innovation community for their thoughts on the incoming administration and its potential impact on their companies and industries.

Here are responses from four business leaders in different cities across Xconomy’s network.

Alex Lash, our national biotech editor, traded e-mails with Bob Nelsen, co-founder and managing director at Arch Venture Partners. (Nelsen is based in Seattle). Here’s an excerpt of their Q&A:

—What is your biggest healthcare-related fear for 2017?

Bob Nelsen

Nelsen: Biggest fear is accidental... Read more »

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Bio Roundup: Tom Price, Patient Conflicts, Orphan Games & More

Fri, 01/20/2017 - 09:18

The new president of the United States, Donald Trump, is being sworn in today amid a storm of questions about the plans that he, and those who might work for him, have in store for American healthcare and medicine.

Trump’s nominee to run the $1 trillion Health and Human Services Department, Tom Price, answered—or didn’t answer—many of those questions in a Senate hearing Wednesday. The back and forth with Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and others illustrated how some of Trump’s heated rhetoric about drug pricing and parts of the Affordable Care Act could put the administration at odds with Republican... Read more »

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StockTwits Buys Mobile App SparkFin to Extend Fintech Services

Fri, 01/20/2017 - 04:20

StockTwits, the Twitter-like social media platform for sharing stock market tips and ideas, has acquired San Diego’s SparkFin, a fintech mobile app for discovering and sharing stocks and other investment ideas.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The common denominator in both companies is Howard Lindzon, the Wall Street trader and hedge fund manager who founded StockTwits in San Diego in 2008. Lindzon led StockTwits as CEO until last year, and continues as chairman. Wall Street investors, traders, financial media, and others use StockTwits to share insights and banter about investment picks.

Ian Rosen, a former MarketWatch general manager... Read more »

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Cytori Buys San Antonio-based Azaya’s Drug Delivery Tech for Stock

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 18:38

San Antonio — Cytori Therapeutics, a San Diego, CA-based developer of drugs that use patients’ own fat tissues to make cellular therapies, is buying the assets of San Antonio-based Azaya Therapeutics in a mostly stock deal, with potential future payments that are dependent on the progress of two drug candidates Cytori is acquiring.

Azaya shareholders are receiving $2 million in Cytori (NASDAQ: CTYX) stock, though $500,000 of it is being held in escrow for 15 months. The deal also includes a $2 million cash payment to pay off costs associated with the construction of Azaya’s new manufacturing facility in San... Read more »

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Want to Ruin Your Relationships? Ask Family and Friends to Fund Your Startup

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 08:00

When you need cash to fuel your startup, it’s tempting to “think local.” The people with the strongest ties to you—relatives, friends, college roommates, running buddies, and co-workers—are the ones who believe in you. You’d probably turn first to them for financial support.

Capital fronted by these folks might be the quickest, easiest cash you’ll ever collect—but you could end up paying a crippling price for it.

Obtaining capital from friends and family can be a lose-lose proposition for entrepreneurs. If the company founders, those investors will kiss every penny goodbye. Even if the startup thrives, they might never see a... Read more »

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Startup Aims AI System for Safety, with Potential for Self-Driving

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 02:01

Over the past 25 years or so, San Diego has become a hub for innovation in telematics, and in providing technologies and services that enable long-haul trucking companies and other fleet operators to monitor the location and operation of their vehicles.

Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) pioneered the use of satellite-based messaging and vehicle tracking technology in 1988 with its Omnitracs business (now an independent company based in Dallas, TX). Since then, San Diego startups DriveCam, Networkcar, and SmartDrive Systems have evolved into major providers of tracking, recording, and analytic services that help transportation companies analyze driver performance, manage risks, and improve... Read more »

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Dems Grill HHS Nominee Price About Trump Comments, Stock Holdings

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 19:03

[Note: This report was co-authored by deputy biotech editor Ben Fidler.] Tom Price, the man who could oversee an overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system, answered often pointed questions this morning from U.S. senators about his views, his plans for Obamacare, and personal financial transactions.

Price, an orthopedic surgeon by training, is President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary. He would run the $1.1 trillion department that houses the nation’s medical insurance programs Medicare and Medicaid, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more. With the... Read more »

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Next Coast Ventures Latest Addition to Austin’s Investment Ecosystem

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 17:08

Austin—Mike Smerklo, co-founder of Next Coast Ventures in Austin, says his venture firm brings a key ingredient to investing: entrepreneurial experience.

“We just believe that relevant experience is more important than anecdotal evidence,” he says of himself and co-founder Tom Ball, who have led companies such as ServiceSource, Nucleus Growth, Openfield, and eCoupons, which was later acquired by Lifeminders (NASDAQ: LFMN). Ball was also part of Austin Ventures for a decade before the firm shuttered in 2015.

Smerklo says the firm will largely focus on Austin startups, making Series A and B investments in tech companies innovating in... Read more »

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Video Trends Point to Changing Ways Companies Reach Consumers

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 09:00

The top emerging trends that will affect our business in 2017 are a mixture of how consumers digest information online, video trends, and the continued growth of live video. The way people digest information online has shifted over time from being text based to photo based to now being very video based. Facebook forecasts that it will be 100 percent video in less than five years.

This trend is a huge benefit for Realync because video, particularly live video, is making its way into every aspect of people’s lives. When Realync first launched in early 2015, creating a do-it-yourself video without... Read more »

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Biotech Roundup: JPM Deals, Gender Diversity, PCSK9 Battle & More

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 11:07

[Corrected, 1/14/16, see below] This past week, the biopharma industry made its annual January pilgrimage to San Francisco for the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. 2016 was a whirlwind year in biotech, and the biopharma gods rewarded attendees with a multi-day monsoon to slog through to get from one meeting to the next.

Earlier today, Alex Lash and I offered a few tidbits from our notebooks—more to come later. But here are many of the other headlines to emerge from J.P. Morgan, where companies across the industry try to put their best foot forward with new deals and more.... Read more »

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Notes From The JPM ’17 Vortex: Trump, Rainstorms & The Price You Pay

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 08:33

[Editor’s note: Ben Fidler contributed to this report] The week of frenetic data sharing, deal talking, and party hopping of the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference—and the events that have mushroomed around it—took a punch to the gut just as most attendees were wrapping up and checking their outbound flight status.

The incoming party-pooper-in-chief, Donald Trump, said during his first press conference Wednesday that drug companies are “getting away with murder” and he’d work to rein in prices and other practices. You could hear the needle screeeeeeeeching across the vinyl. (Good thing it came Wednesday; Tuesday is the... Read more »

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Startup Resolution 2017: Embrace Believers, Bounce Skeptics & Keep Moving

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 05:00

The holiday period is a great time for reflection and then behavior modification – often referred to as resolutions. While a bit artificial to the logical engineer, this opportunity can be helpful. This year, my favorite insight came from a former student and employee, Elliot Cohen, co-founder of PillPack.

While thinking about the major aspirational goals for the upcoming year that motivate me to get out of bed every morning with high energy and purpose – such as getting my second book out in March, significantly raising the endowment of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, developing the concept of... Read more »

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Cyber Attackers Targeted Our Trust, Not Just an Election

Thu, 01/12/2017 - 08:00

The cyber attacks on political organizations and election infrastructure added a level of intrigue to this year’s U.S. presidential election – culminating in the U.S. government officially blaming the Russian government for trying to influence the election.

If the Cold War has taught us anything, it’s that global espionage is a game of chess, not checkers. These cyber attacks need to be viewed in context if our goal is to achieve greater levels of security – it’s not just about this election or a candidate.

These attacks are part of a long-game strategy designed to destroy or minimize our collective faith... Read more »

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Social Fund-raising Website GoFundMe Buys Detroit Rival CrowdRise

Thu, 01/12/2017 - 02:06

GoFundMe, the Redwood City, CA-based fund-raising platform for charities and nonprofits, has acquired CrowdRise, a Detroit, MI-based rival founded by entrepreneurs Robert Wolfe and Jeffrey Wolfe, and Hollywood philanthropists Edward Norton and Shauna Robertson.

Financial terms were not disclosed in a statement issued Tuesday by GoFundMe.

Brad Damphousse and Andy Ballester founded GoFundMe in San Diego in 2010. They departed in 2015, after selling a majority stake to an investor group led by Accel and Technology Crossover Ventures that reportedly valued GoFundMe at $600 million. The company moved its headquarters to Redwood City when former Groupon chief operating officer Rob... Read more »

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Biopharma Leaders Call for Gender Diversity Amid J.P. Morgan Conference

Wed, 01/11/2017 - 17:00

A group of more than 100 prominent life sciences executives, investors, and business leaders have signed an open letter calling on the industry to step up efforts to increase gender diversity.

The letter was published Wednesday, on the second to last day of the annual J.P. Morgan healthcare conference in San Francisco (see full letter below). One of the events sparking the industry’s current discussion about its lack of gender diversity was an infamous cocktail party held during last year’s J.P. Morgan conference, where a New York investor relations consultancy, LifeSci Advisors, hired scantily clad women to mingle with guests.... Read more »

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Correlation Ventures Raises $200M, Maintains Its “Moneyball” Strategy

Wed, 01/11/2017 - 16:33

Correlation Ventures, a co-investing venture firm that uses analytic software to optimize its decisions, said today it has raised $200 million for its oversubscribed second fund. The firm, which has offices in San Diego, Palo Alto, and New York, said it now has $366 million in assets under management.

Investors in the fund include college endowment funds, pensions, funds of funds, and family offices, according to a statement from the firm.

The venture firm said it invested in 121 companies from its first fund, and has been investing out of Correlation 2. Correlation’s website lists 63 current portfolio companies in four... Read more »

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Trump Slams Drug Companies, Says Medicare “Bidding” Is Coming

Wed, 01/11/2017 - 15:46

Oh, the power of a Donald Trump sound bite. On the campaign trail and as president-elect he has made occasional noises about drug pricing—giving the U.S. Medicare system, the largest buyer of drugs in the world, the right to negotiate prices, for instance.

This morning, in his first press conference, Trump went further. He said drug companies are “getting away with murder” because of the prices they charge. Here’s the transcript, courtesy of NPR.

“I think a lot of industries are going to be coming back. We have to get our drug industry coming back. Our drug industry has been... Read more »

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Edtech Venture Funding Down in 2016, But Still Tops $1B

Wed, 01/11/2017 - 12:43

While we’re looking at venture deal numbers from the past year, let’s consider the education technology industry, which isn’t broken out by sector in the general reports I’ve seen.

A recent study by EdSurge, an edtech information firm, shows venture funding for U.S. education tech companies totaled $1.03 billion (across 138 deals) in 2016. Those numbers are down from the $1.45 billion invested in 198 deals in 2015, according to EdSurge.

Those stats track with the overall trend in VC funding nationally: the industry saw a “correction” or “normalization” downward after hitting a peak in 2015.

The EdSurge report... Read more »

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At Allergan And Other Pharmas, Price Transparency Has Limits

Wed, 01/11/2017 - 08:30

The first test of pharmaceutical giant Allergan’s promise to behave responsibly came last week. The firm acknowledged price hikes on several drugs that stayed—sometimes barely—under the 10 percent limit that CEO Brent Saunders pledged last September, in what he called a “social contract with patients.”

In an interview at the annual J.P. Morgan healthcare investment conference in San Francisco, Saunders reiterated that the high single-digit price hikes would only bring Allergan (NYSE: AGN) a two or three percent net increase in revenues after middlemen like Express Scripts (NYSE: ESRX) and CVS Health (NYSE: CVS), called pharmacy... Read more »

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VC Activity Continues Slowdown in Fourth Quarter, and Top 10 Deals

Wed, 01/11/2017 - 02:01

Venture capital firms didn’t exactly take their foot off the accelerator, but the pace of VC investments continued to weaken in the three months that ended in December, extending a slowdown that began in July, according to two venture reports issued today.

The deceleration followed a strong start to venture activity during the first half of 2016, but was chalked up as a “return to normalization” in the Venture Monitor report released by Seattle-based PitchBook and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA).

The report found that venture firms invested $12.7 billion in 1,736 U.S. companies during the fourth quarter—a 20 percent... Read more »

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